A busy weekend of cricket for the Coleraine 2nd XI drew no complaints from the players as they basked in sunshine at Sandel Lodge on Saturday afternoon in their first game of two weekend fixtures, this time against Glendermott.
Winning the toss Coleraine opted to bat first on a perfect batting track, hoping that fielding in the heat would cause the opposition to wilt as they chased the ball to the extensive boundaries at Coleraine’s grounds.
Despite this it was Coleraine who were immediately under pressure as the first wicket fell with only three runs on the board. Opener Jonny Elder was replaced by Vishal Chopra, who, with first Wilson Torrens (20) and then Steven Harper (18), steadied the innings from this wobble and Chopra went on to top score for the day on 73, only losing his wicket at 133 for 4.
At this stage the Coleraine team struggled to develop another serious partnership until the tail wagged with a pairing between Jarred Barnes (42) and Andrew Douglas (6 not out) with Barnes scoring the majority of their 42 run partnership before he fell at 209 for 9, followed four balls later by new batsman Ammar Malik, leaving Coleraine on a total of 209.
With such a potentially fragile lead to defend in a 50 over game, Coleraine’s bowlers knew they had to be at their best to maintain their winning ways, but with Glendermott only able to call on 10 batsmen, they set about the task with relish. In just 21 overs they shared the spoils, each bowler, Jarred Barnes, Kyle Martin, Andrew Douglas and Steven Harper, taking two wickets and with a run out for Douglas and Jonny Elder, they saw off the Glendermott innings for just 48 runs.
The second game of the weekend was away to Eglinton, where the conditions were equally exotic. This time Coleraine had to suffer the exhausting heat by fielding first, but despite this, Eglinton’s batsmen found it difficult getting started, losing their first four wickets for just 38 runs, as each of Coleraine’s bowlers claimed one apiece.
The top scores of Lamberton (33) and Martin (37) were the best Eglinton could muster as wickets continued to fall regularly, Eglinton finishing all out for 138 after 43.5 overs. Andrew Douglas topped the wicket takers with 3 for just 10 runs in his 10 overs and Steven Harper had 3 for 23 off his 5.5 over spell.
This time the pressure was on the Coleraine batsmen to finish the job, which they did without much drama. A 69 run partnership between Wilson Torrens (39) and Vishal Chopra (36) did most of the leg work, but, with Kyle Martin firing in a quick 30 not out to see Coleraine home in just 24.4 overs, the 2nd XI claimed a five wicket victory to add to their tally, taking them to the semi-finals of the Intermediate A Cup.
Next week Coleraine 2nd XI have two more fixtures, both at home in the League, first against Fox Lodge and then Eglinton who will be looking to get revenge for their expulsion from the Cup by the Coleraine side. Coleraine will hope to reproduce this week’s winning ways with further strong performances from both the batsmen and bowlers in the team.
Meanwhile, entering the first round of their cup competition Coleraine 3rd XI travelled to Killyclooney whom they had previously beaten in their only home game of the season thus far. The side knew that Killy are not to be taken lightly on their home turf especially on their compact second pitch. Winning the toss Coleraine elected to bat first on a dry but mossy track.
Openers Brian Acheson and Matthew Douglas got Coleraine off to a steady start until Douglas was run out attempting a second run that was never really on. Youngster Matthew Smyth was promoted to number three after showing promise in the under 16s as an opening batsman. The Killy attack proved to be non-threatening to both batsmen until shortly after Acheson reached his fifty Smyth lofted a drive and was caught on the long off boundary with the score on 92.
Michael MacRaild then joined Acheson and was immediately into his stride at the crease with an opening pull to the boundary for four. The pair looked to be in the best form with the bat and gelled comfortably as a partnership.
MacRaild reached his first century off just 74 balls and finished the innings on 107 not out - a remarkable achievement for a young player. Acheson was to lose his wicket off the last ball of the innings as he lofted an off drive only to be caught on the boundary for 112.
After tea Killyclooney began their response and they seemed determined not to go down without a fight. But Coleraine steadied their bowling to win.
A great batting performance by the thirds they now progress into the next round with hopes of repeating their success of last season. They will need to tighten up their recent bowling performances to make that opportunity a reality.